With the current economic downturn, many families have succumbed to the pressures and fallen below the poverty line.
The situation does not get any better for single mother families who are struggling to make ends meet even at the best of times.
The state of Tennessee stepped in with programs that specifically target the needs of single mothers and their families.
The focus on this sector of society is based on the fact that kids from single parent families are often the most vulnerable.
Families First is Tennessee’s welfare program that provides temporary cash benefits to eligible low-income families with children. These benefits are time-limited to 60 months in a participant’s lifetime.
To be eligible for the program, you must agree to follow a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP) which among other things, you agree to work or be in work-related activities for 30 hours a week, unless otherwise exempt.
You may apply for Families First benefits at your local Department of Human Services county office or call the Family Assistance Service Center at 1-866-311-4287.
The Tennessee Food Stamp program provides nutritional assistance benefits to eligible Tennesseans — children, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families.
The aim is to serve as a safety net for families struggling with hunger. In Tennessee, 17.6% of households rely on food stamps, a higher percentage than in all but two other states.
If you’re eligible to receive food stamp, you will receive an EBT Card, which allows food stamp benefits to be issued and accessed electronically.
Tennessee to Reinstate Work Requirement for SNAP
Beginning February 1, 2018, able-bodied adults without dependents in most counties will have to put in at least 20 hours per week on a job in order to get SNAP benefits. That requirement was waived in 2008 amid the Great Recession.1
In Tennessee, the WIC program provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutritious education, health care referrals, and breastfeeding support to nearly 165,000 women, infants, and children until the age of 5.
Participants must be a resident of the state of Tennessee, meet WIC income guidelines and be individually determined to be at nutritional or medical risk by a health professional.
If eligible, you’ll be issued with WIC vouchers in three month increments which can be redeemed at any one of the 900+ participating grocery stores in Tennessee.
TennCare is the State of Tennessee’s Medicaid program that helps low-income individuals and families with children pay for some or all of their medical bills, including pregnant women and single parents who meet the income eligibility requirements.
Eligible participants will receive free medical services such as doctors’ services, dental care, eyeglasses, home care, hospital care, and many other health-related services.
As Tennessee is not expanding Medicaid coverage, eligibility for non-disabled adults will be limited to parents with incomes below 98% of poverty. However, you may still be able to get financial assistance to pay for coverage in the marketplace.
CoverKids is Tennessee Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that is funded by both the state and the federal government. It covers uninsured children age 18 and younger.
In order to qualify, families must earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level or about $51,000 a year for a single mother of two and meet other eligibility criteria.
In addition to children’s coverage, pregnant women whose income is too high for TennCare may also receive maternity coverage through CoverKids.
Parents participating in the Families First program who need help paying for child care may receive financial assistance with the full cost of child care. No co-pay is required.
Eligibility is based on Families First income guidelines. In general, parents whose incomes not exceeding 160% of the federal poverty level may qualify.
In general, Tennessee is not providing child care assistance to any families or children unless they were families already receiving Families First, the state’s TANF program.
Teen Child Care Assistance
This program is for eligible high school or middle school mothers. In order to receive child care assistance, these young mothers must stay in school. Parents must pay a co-pay fee based on a sliding income scale. For information, call 1-866-827-3372.
Tennessee’s LIHEAP assist eligible low-income Tennessee households in meeting the costs of home heating and cooling; primarily those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.
Eligible applicants can receive assistance once per year, up to $325 for summer cooling program or $250 for emergency heating assistance, as long as funding is available.
Application, along with all necessary verification, must be submitted through the designated LIHEAP agency in the applicant’s county of residence.2
Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary jobless benefits to eligible workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages, while they are looking for a new job.
Tennessee claimants receive their benefits via the Tennessee Automated Payment (TAP) debit card or direct deposit. The minimum benefit for those who qualify is $30, up to a maximum of $275 per week.
You can apply for UI benefits either online or by phone by calling one of the following phone numbers listed below:
- Other Tennessee Areas
- Out-of-State Claimant
The Tennessee Student Assistance Award is a state-funded grant program that provides non-repayable financial aid to needy undergraduate students who are enrolled at a public or an eligible non-public postsecondary institution in Tennessee.
To be eligible, students must be Tennessee residents, and must have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $2100 or less. Grant amounts vary, and are awarded to the neediest applicants on a first come, first served basis.
To receive priority consideration, you are strongly encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1 each year.
High school seniors in Tennessee may apply for the Tennessee Promise scholarship, which will provide two years of free tuition attendance at any community or technical college in Tennessee.
Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not met by Pell, HOPE or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award.
- WBIR, Work requirements reinstated for able-bodied food stamp recipients
- Click here for a list of agencies and counties they serve.